Match Preview – Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup 2023 2023, 2nd Match, Group B


Big picture – SL, Bangladesh grapple with player absences

Okay, cards on the table, Sri Lanka aren’t in good shape.
Sure, they haven’t been consistently great in quite some time, but these are the defending Asia Cup champions at the end of the day, not to forget that they clean-swept the World Cup Qualifier a few months ago. Technically, this is still that team. Technically.

But injuries have decimated Sri Lanka’s bowling attack. The list of those unavailable currently reads Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Dilshan Madushanka and Wanindu Hasaranga. For context, that’s the three first-choice seamers – all capable of speeds in the 145kph region – and their star legspinner, who just completed as dominant an all-round franchise display as you’re likely to see, in the Lanka Premier League.

Sri Lanka still have the excellent Maheesh Theekshana to call on, though, while their back-up seamers, while not as express as the aforementioned walking wounded, can be relied upon to do a job. The issue, however, is that they now have to rely primarily on their batters to win matches, which they have lately struggled with even at the best of times (read World Cup Qualifier).

As for Bangladesh, Litton Das has been ruled out on the eve of the tournament, while they have had their fair share of off-field drama with the will-he-won’t-he captaincy saga involving Tamim Iqbal. They are coming into this game on the back of a hard-fought home-series defeat to Afghanistan, but they’ve otherwise been a hugely impressive ODI force of late.

Their unit as a whole has achieved a pleasing blend of youth and experience in recent times. The conditions in Pallekele are also likely to suit their spinners. In that sense, even though Sri Lanka might have the home advantage, the latest edition of the Naagin Derby (look it up, if you must) might just see Bangladesh coming in as marginal favourites.

Form guide

Sri Lanka WWWWW (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
Bangladesh WLLWW

In the spotlight

Mehidy Hasan Miraz is still just 25, but it definitely feels like he’s been around for ages, and in a sense he has, having made his debut in 2016. While it was his simple yet effective offspin that first caught the attention, it’s his more recent exploits with the bat that have earned him a permanent spot. Now a bonafide all-round option coming in lower down the order, Mehidy offers his side a great deal of balance, and his match-winning century against India in December showed his ability to be a genuine gamechanger.
Kusal Mendis didn’t have a great LPL, while his performances in the World Cup Qualifier didn’t necessarily set the world alight. The past year or two, on the whole, has been a fruitful period for the now 28-year-old, though, especially in T20Is where he has showcased a bolder approach at the top of the order. In ODIs, he has tended to anchor the innings early on before looking to cut loose. As such nearly every formidable Sri Lanka ODI batting performance in recent times has coincided with an in-form Mendis. With a second-string bowling unit to play with, Mendis will be key to any Sri Lankan success.

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Team news

Kusal Perera is in contention for a place in the starting XI, having recovered from a case of Covid-19. However, he last played an ODI over two years ago. With Hasaranga not available, Dushan Hemantha is the sole legspin option, but Dunith Wellalage’s batting could see him get the nod instead.
Sri Lanka XI (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Kusal Mendis (wk), 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 8 Dushan Hemantha/Dunith Wellalage, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Binura Fernando, 11 Kasun Rajitha

Anamul Haque has replaced Litton. But there is an outside chance that Tanzid Hasan replaces Litton in the XI and makes his ODI debut. A knee niggle could keep Mustafizur Rahman out.

Bangladesh XI (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Tanzid Hasan/Anamul Haque, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Towhid Hridoy, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Afif Hossain, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Hasan Mahmud, 11 Shoriful Islam

Pitch and conditions

During the LPL, most pitches proved to be quite two-paced, and Pallekele was no different, with bowlers rewarded for varying their pace. On occasion, however, batting did get easier, and better, under lights. In terms of the weather, it’s largely expected to be hot and humid and there is a chance of rain.

Stats and trivia

  • Bangladesh have played just one ODI in Pallekele, against Sri Lanka in 2013, which they won

  • Sri Lanka have the second-highest win percentage against Bangladesh – 81.63% – in ODI cricket. Only Pakistan have a higher percentage (86.48). However, Sri Lanka have lost four of their last ten games against Bangladesh

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